ISIS Is Getting More Organized—and Lethal—in Egypt

Dec 28, 2014 at 5:16 AM ET

For most of the last few years, ISIS has been fighting the fiercest battles—and acquiring most of the territory it now controls—in Iraq and Syria. More recently, militants has been trying to expand that base by gaining a foothold in places like Gaza, Yemen and Egypt.

ISIS has been operating loosely in Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula, for the past six months, launching attacks here and there. But the group has released video and other documents that suggest it is getting more organized in the Sinai—and also more lethal. For the first time, ISIS is setting up military checkpoints, as shown in this ISIS video, on the main road between the major cities of Al-Arish and Rafah. In the video, militants explain that they chose that location, close to the Gaza Strip and the Israeli border, because it will allow them to “catch spies from the Egyptian army and spies for the Jews.”

Another ISIS video, in fact, shows “spies” from the Egyptian army being executed by ISIS. The video implies the alleged spies were captured at the new checkpoint, though that can’t be verified.

An ISIS checkpoint.

As we previously reported, the new Egyptian arm of ISIS—which the group has named “Sinai Province”—is actually a reconstituted version of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, which for years had been Egypt’s deadliest militant organization. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to the Islamic State earlier this year and was embraced officially by ISIS leader Abu-Baker al-Baghdadi. A few weeks ago, we reported that ISIS participated in a political protest in Egypt by carrying out attacks against the Egyptian army. The rise of ISIS in Egypt, of course, poses a serious threat to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the Egyptian army.

Based on the videos and documents being posted to ISIS forums, militants from the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) have increased their military operations against the Egyptian army. ISIS supporters on Twitter released two reports documenting the group’s operations against the Egyptian army between Oct. 25 and Dec. 22.

According to these reports, ISIS killed an Egyptian police officer on Nov. 13 in Rafah, on the border of Gaza. Two weeks ago ISIS militants released another video, showing the group’s members killing two Egyptian officers and one soldier in a drive-by shooting.

ISIS report: “The military operations by ISIS’ Sinai Province against the Egyptian army from October 23 to November 22, listed by date.”

Images from an ISIS report documenting Sinai operations against the Egyptian army from Nov. 23 to Dec. 22.